Cooperation best way to promote peace

President Moshe Katsav of Israel visited Greece last week, at a time when his country was at a turning point: Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has been in a coma since January 4, parliamentary elections are scheduled for March 28 while the party founded by Sharon appears to be overtaking his old party, the right-wing Likud as well as the left-wing Labor Party. However, Israel’s greatest and more immediate challenge is the major victory for the Islamic organization Hamas in the recent Palestinian elections. After decades of terrorist attacks against Israel, Hamas persists in claiming that Israel has no right to exist. The new Palestinian government was to be formed Saturday; Israel’s reaction was as yet unknown. In the first official visit by an Israeli head of state (Greece officially recognized Israel as recently as 1991) Katsav granted Kathimerini this interview last Wednesday and talked about the challenges his country was facing, about its relations with Iran and Syria, about the Jews of Greece and Israel’s relations with Greece and Turkey. Above all, he emphasized that if the Palestinians renounced violence, peace was feasible. «We are close to peace, we can touch it,» he said. «Never before has the political gap between the Palestinian Authority and our government been as small as it has been recently. Much depends on the end of terrorism.»

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